May 31, 2013

Dutch: single or dual population?

A recent study deals with the autosomal structure (or lack of it) of the population of the Netherlands.

Oscar Lao et al., Clinal distribution of human genomic diversity across the Netherlands despite archaeological evidence for genetic discontinuities in Dutch population history. Investigative Genetics 2013. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1186/2041-2223-4-9]

They studied the autosomal DNA of almost 1000 anonymous male donors from the Netherlands. Interestingly the lowest cross-validation value was at K=1, what indicates that the Dutch (Frisians included) are a very homogeneous population, that the most accurate result of their splitting into several components produced only one such component.

Supp. fig. 3-A

K=2 and K=3 however produce similarly low scores, however the researchers preferred to study K=5, which makes a shallow valley between its neighboring values. Probably not the best idea but nevertheless the overall result is similar to what they get at K=3.

Supp. Fig. 3b (ADMIXTURE clustering)

K=2 is very intriguing because only a few scattered individuals fall totally (just two) or partly within the second cluster. These individuals persist in their distinctiveness through the whole series. I wonder if they are people with non-European ancestry (no way to know because they are anonymous donors and as far as I could discern ancestry information was not requested from them).

K=3 is what I would consider the most usable K-level, with similar cross-validation score to the lowest one (K=1) and displaying two widely represented clusters (plus the anomalous one mentioned before). However the authors preferred to work on K=5, which, luckily enough, is quite similar to K=3 in the essentials, also showing two basic components (yellow and pink):

Figure 4 Admixture analysis of the Dutch samples. A) Pie chart map of the genome-wide ancestry assignment in the 54 Dutch subpopulations estimated with 10 independent runs by ADMIXTURE [26] using K = 5 assumed parental populations. B) Individual ancestry estimated by ADMIXTURE using K = 5. C) Ternary plot of subpopulations using the three.

If we ignore the ubiquitous orange component and the minor ones, we can appreciate that the country has two distinct areas:
  1. Southern area (dominated by the pink component): including Zeeland, North Brabant, Limburg, South Holland, much of North Holland and, counterintuively, Western Overjissel.
  2. Northern area (dominated by the yellow component): including Friesland, Gröningen, Drenthe and the eastern areas of Gelderland and Overjissel.
  3. Transitional area: Utrecht and parts of Gelderland and North Holland.

Frisian language today
(CC by ArnoldPlaton)
The authors go to great lengths to try to explain this structure but they do not seem to reach any strong conclusion. I'm not any expert in Dutch history but a tentative explanation may be that, roughly, the yellow-dominated areas correspond more strongly to the areas of Low German/Frisian presence and/or some of their prehistoric precursors (often prehistoric cultures of Low Germany tended to be distinct to those further South).

Low Saxon area (NL)
(CC by Gebruker:Grönneger 1)
While Dutch and the related Limburgish dialect are part of the wider Low Franconian category (descending from Frankish Germanic and historically spoken around the Rhine), most of the yellow-dominated regions belong to distinct historical language areas: Frisian and Low German, which are both believed to derive (together with English) from the same ancestral Ingaevonic branch of West Germanic. This historical and prehistorical duality may well explain the modern genetic duality in its fundamentals, if not the genetic boundary in detail.

Your take in any case.

Approx. Germanic dialectal areas some 2000 years ago
Red: North Sea Germanic (Ingaevonic)
Orange: Wesser-Rhine Germanic (Istvaeonic)
full legend
(CC by Hayden120)


  1. There weren't any Germanics in Poland until the Middle Ages. We know this because Germanics didn't eat millet.

    1. Well, it's interesting but I doubt that's any sort of "smoking gun". Goths left a legacy of some written texts which are clearly a Germanic dialect. All them were considered "Germans" in Antiquity and Early Middle Ages.

      However most historians are willing to assume AFAIK that they were just a passerby elite, much like Varangians in Russia or the very same Goths in Italy and Spain (as well as other Germanic ruling elites, none of which left a major long-lasting linguistic legacy, with the English exception).

      I don't take the map as implying that all the shaded areas were monolingual in said dialects but that those languages were spoken in those areas by at least some people.

  2. There aren't any Gothic archeological remains from Poland - no Gothic texts or even any pre-Viking items with runes. You must be thinking of what is now Ukraine.

    Poland has the Wielbark and Przeworsk cultures, which are often described as Gothic and Vandal, but their remains are identical to those of Medieval Slavs in terms of cranial and odontological traits. Also, as per above, Wielbark remains showed consumption of millet, which wasn't consumed in Scandinavia, or even by likely Scandinavian Vikings stationed in Poland.

    It seems Goths weren't present in Poland. They probably moved into Ukraine south of the Carpathians.

    1. The Gothic text, a partial translation of the Bible is from Italy. Whether there were Goths in what is now Poland before their arrival to Ukraine and Romania or not is a debate I don't feel qualified to enter into but it is what I have read once and again in many history books.

      "... the Wielbark and Przeworsk cultures, which are often described as Gothic and Vandal, but their remains are identical to those of Medieval Slavs in terms of cranial and odontological traits".

      I would not be able to distinguish a Goth from a Pole either most probably. Europeans are all very similar and even more so Northern-Central Europeans.

      "Also, as per above, Wielbark remains showed consumption of millet, which wasn't consumed in Scandinavia"...

      So? People change dietary habits. "When in Rome do as Romans do".

      "Scandinavian Vikings stationed in Poland".

      In quasi-isolated coastal enclaves, not the same thing.

      "They probably moved into Ukraine south of the Carpathians".

      Directly from Sweden? Maybe flying in anachronistic zeppelins? What about the references by several Greco-Roman Geographers of Eastern Germanics (Vandals, Goths, Burgundians)? I know they are imprecise but they don't seem to be talking of Sweden nor Ukraine but of the northern reaches of Central Europe. Romans were quite familiar with all that area, having briefly conquered Germany up to the Elbe and being always in need to defend against ravaging Germanic tribes attempting often to cross the limes.

      Where do you think the Goths lived at before reaching Ukraine, when Ptolomy and the rest described them?

      Per Wikpedia, Wielbark culture... was influenced by southern Scandinavian culture beginning as early as the late Nordic Bronze Age and early Pre-Roman Iron Age (ca. 1300 – ca. 300 BC).[29] In fact, the Scandinavian influence on Pomerania and today's northern Poland from ca. 1300 BC (period III) and onwards was so considerable that some see the culture of the region as part of the Nordic Bronze Age culture.[30] (...) The settlement in today's Poland may correspond to the introduction of Scandinavian burial traditions, such as the stone circles and the stelae especially common on the island of Gotland and other parts of southern Sweden.

      In any case, it seems mostly irrelevant to the main topic.

  3. There weren't any Germanics in Poland until the Middle Ages. We know this because Germanics didn't eat millet.

    I and almost every respectable archaeologist, linguist, and historian strongly disagrees with you, on this point. Sounds more like Polish nationalism. Poland and Slaves in that region did not exist until after ~500 CE, by a huge amount of archaeological and contemporaneous historical data. There is pretty much unequivocal evidence and academic support for that.

    1. You seem to be right, Eurologist. However it's very likely that Germanic elites (Goths, Vandals, etc.) ruled over other more locally rooted peoples, who later assimilated into Slavic ethno-linguistic identity. In any case the Eastern Germanic tribes seem all to have stemmed from Scandinavia and ruled over what is now Poland, and later Ukraine and Romania, as elites. For example the very Chernyakov culture that coincides with the first historical Gothic kingdom in Ukraine-Romania is also widely claimed today to be at the origin of historical Slavs, being itself surely a mixture of diverse ethnic backgrounds (proto-Slav, Gothic, Dacian, Sarmatian, etc.)

      Ethnogenesis is often complex but in the Metal and Middle Ages I tend to imagine it as mostly locally rooted peoples who fell subject of diverse fluctuating tribal-feudal militaristic oligarchies, who, if their rule was long enough, usually assimilated them into the ethnic identity of the elite. In the Middle Ages at least rural workers were at least 90% of the population. Most of these did not migrate. This may well explain the relative stability of the genetic legacy apparent between the Bronze (and maybe Chalcolithic) Age up to present day, in spite of relatively frequent ethnic identity changes.

    2. Maju,

      I agree with most of that. Clearly, despite everything, the core populations, say, between the Elbe/Saale and Vistula rivers did not change all that much during the past ~4,000 years. I also agree that East-Germanic influence peaked while Slavic expansion got started. Nevertheless, the core population in much of the region remained the same and showed the same superposed West-East cline as 2,000 years before and as today.

  4. Maju,

    Coming back to your original post, I largely agree with your summary statements. Also, I think the orange component corresponds to western Lower Saxon low German vs. Frisian (yellow component).

    When the previous two Dutch analyses came out, I made the point (elsewhere) that Dutch genetics cannot be understood without also looking at neighboring Germany and Flemish Belgium, since the boundaries are rather arbitrary and relatively recent. In most cases, you see similarities along similar latitudes even on this small scale.

    On the German side, from north to south, you have: Frisian, Emsland (western Lower Saxony low German), Grafschaft (transition from western Lower Saxony low German to NW Westphalian), mainstream west-Westphalian, northern Lower-Frankish (related to central Dutch), southern Lower-Frankish (related to SE Dutch and extreme N Flamish) and Ripuarian middle-Frankish (related to Flemish).

    I have traveled the region extensively, and would say that north of the Lippe river I can make out three different types (they are not uniquely present but somewhat representative; they may correspond from N to S to yellow, orange, and turquoise; pink definitely seems to be Frankish and thus more southern on the German side). Approaching the Lippe river and towards the Rhine, things get more complicated and cosmopolitan, which is not surprising given the long presence of Romans and far-traveling merchants, there, and a much more tumultuous history. Still, clearly, SW of the Lippe/Rhine area is Frankish (pink component).

    W and N Frisians are generally quite tall, lank, with relatively large noses, and disproportionally light blond (yellow component).

    In the central Emsland you can find people with slightly Baltic features (a bit more stocky, not as tall, more subcutaneous fat, wider faces, more widely spaced and larger eyes, flat, small, broader noses, darker blond to slightly reddish hair: orange component).

    Towards the southern Emsland and into the Grafschaft and NW Westphalia, you find some rather tall, white-skinned, gracile people with seemingly thin, long bones, now more often curly and dark blond to dark brown hair, flat chests, slightly larger and longer noses, a narrow, sometimes triangular face, and a bit of an androgynous look. You can find the same phenotype all the way to the Flemish regions of NE Belgium (turquoise component?).

    It would be interesting to see if the three components outside pink are more stratified on the German side than in Holland.

  5. Germanvs were farmers not a certain race of Caucasians.

  6. Enough with this "Germanic" nonsense. Franks originally meant western people, Atlantic Europeans NOT Germanic People, that's the first time I heard of a "Frankish Germanic", nonsense all nonsense. What's the "Germanic genetic lineage"? Is there a specific lineage for a "Germanic"? Of course not!

    1. Wot? Germanic is a linguistic category!

      And, BTW, almost everything ethnic is linguistic. Are you trying to identify nations with "races"? What the heck are you talking about Menéndez?!

  7. To you it may be a linguistic category, but to "Germanic" nationalists it becomes a race of Caucasians with blond hair and blue eyes. A notion that was invented 300 to 400 yrs ago and that it's well alive today. No matter our characteristics, Europeans and all European descent are all Caucasian, Near easterners, North Africans are all Caucasian including some populations in Asia. I have posted a link to a very interesting book, about the origin and notion into "Indo Germanic" and "Indo European" nonsense. A must read, a must have book.

    Just one question I have, when did the Germanic language or texts supposedly originate?,+and+Indo-Germanic+theory&ots=p4WgCprXOC&sig=I03wl6bxVUzkJUFw4uYXDQs5A3A#v=onepage&q=On%20the%20Aryan%2C%20and%20Indo-Germanic%20theory&f=false

    1. Regardless of what Nazis say, it is a mere linguistic category. In fact Germany is quite clearly a very mixed area in terms genetic.

      Re. "all Caucasian", that's meaningless. Europeans and West Asians have at least minor (but significant and widespread) African and East Asian admixture. Your language does not put you above the Nazi scum and I wonder if you are one of those "brunette Aryans" who are the laughing stock of everybody with common sense. I'm not willing to tolerate any sort of crude racialism (typically hiding racist ideas) in this blog, so either change your language or get lost.

      "... when did the Germanic language or texts supposedly originate?"

      Look it up in Wikipedia, seriously. I'm nobody's errand boy.

    2. Maju, I'm far from being a "brunette Aryan" that's laughable, I don't take part in the notion of "white people", I'm not a separatist. I know, that we both know, they say Proto Germanic originated around 500BC. "with no proof" just a lot of maybe's likely's and might be's. Some of our greatest modern inventors and scientists came from Northern Europe, Northern Europeans had a great deal with our cultural advancement, I don't have a problem with that, my problem is when they try to separate Europeans into racial categories. I live in a country where "white people" and "black people" live and everyone else in between is a mongrel, and where Spanish people are actually Mexicans.
      So by using such terms as "Germanic" is just adding more fuel to their fire, without you even realizing it, and when I was reading your post and read "Frankish Germanic" I couldn't hold it anymore and had to say something.

      "In fact Germany is quite clearly a very mixed area in terms genetic".

      We both know this, Germans (males) actually clusters with western Europe to a greater extent and not with eastern Europe. I personally think, that our diverse phenotypes has lots to do with different females while our forefathers traversed through Europe and Asia.

      I won't take up more of your time, thanks for your reply.

    3. Whatever you are, you are using terminology very close to what those Nazi scumbags use, for example: "I'm not a [white] separatist". Nobody uses the term "white separatist", much less with the "white" implicit, except Nazis trying to deceive (often trying to deceive their pitiful confused selves). You come from those racist ambients, I can 'smell' it in your vocabulary.

      ... "by using such terms as "Germanic" is just adding more fuel to their fire"...

      Germanic is a linguistic category, just like Romance or Slavic or Semitic or Bantu. There's no other word, at least not in common usage. When in doubt, check Wikipedia (or equivalent). The Germanic languages expanded (within Europe) in the Iron Age and Middle Ages, mostly at the expense of the Celtic ones.

    4. "Whatever you are" I'm Iberian just like you. And all my life I lived in an olive skin tone. How would you feel, when constantly people say to you, that you're not white, because you're Spanish? when I know I'm 100% Caucasian? I have your typical, Italian Spaniard exotic features. I want to unite humanity not separate humanity or at least Europeans abroad.
      But I didn't want to make this into a racial reality's debate, I just wanted to comment on the use of the term "Germanic" that's all, didn't know it was going to turn into this. For the record, I hate Nazi wanna be scumbags too. Don't hang me for trying to set things straight.

    5. Ok, Menendiz, sorry if I misinterpreted you. I just found your language very strange and racially loaded, that's all.

      As for what is "white", I think that the best attitude is not caring about because it is an idiotic category. Even if my African ancestry is probably tiny, I try to embrace it, same for East Asian or whatever else. My identity is not defined by skin color.

    6. Thank you, they should eliminate the term "white people" I feel it's very racist to others who do not adhere to that fantasy. If they want to differentiate people by skin tones, they should actually use the right terminology, like Pale, because that's what it really is. Some people are just more pale then others not "whiter" thanks again.

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  9. "Germanvs" in Latin originally meant "farmers" "cultivators" not a certain speaker of a certain language, who originated somewhere by the Black sea basin and invaded Europe by the cost of the Roman Empire in 400AD. It's all bologna bro.

  10. Also it is said that "Germanvs" meant Brothers, a term that in Spanish "Hermanus" comes from.

  11. Maju, you are such a paranoid! I do not understand why you are so hyper-sensitive about the language relating to racial matters. I guess it is to do with the fact that you are from Western Europe, one of the most politically correct places of the world. Like it or not, the overwhelming majority of the world are not like you on this issue, so you are marginalizing the overwhelming majority of the world with your patronizing and exclusive attitude.

    1. Sometimes the minority are right and the majority wrong. Most of the world has a pretty crappy history of inventing differences between people so that we may persecute one another, including both my country and yours. Maybe some are motivated to stop it from happening again though.

    2. Don't get me wrong, Ryan, I am not a follower of argumentum ad populum (appeal to the majority). But Maju is portraying something that is the majority opinion as a marginal Nazi opinion that should be condemned and punished (see the reason why I am prohibited from posting comments in this blog). This is something that a normal person with a sense of conscience, justice and simple logic would not consent to.

    3. Onur: you are banned since long ago precisely for this attitude. It was not me who raised back in the day that the language you used was potentially offensive. Some other people were being offended and I had to act.

      You are not authorized to comment in this blog. I should actually delete all your comments but for deference to Ryan and context they will stay. I will not tolerate a single comment more from you and if I have to turn again to comment pre-moderation or close the blog in anger, I'll make very clear it is your fault.

      It is my fucking blog and I make the fucking rules, and even the exceptions I do make them. You are a guest, actually not: you are not welcome precisely for that reason: excessive racialism and stubbornness. If you're not going to adapt your attitude to the house rules, go to your house, not mine. Or appeal to Google... *smirk*

      And anyhow "white nationalist" = nazi = racist and whoever uses that kind of term almost certainly learned it from a Nazi. I feel violently angered by that kind of criminals-against-Humankind, who obviously are in dire need of serious reeducation or worse (some are totally incorrigible and even Humanist mercy has limits).

      This is not a public wall where people can graffiti or pee on it: it is my blog and comments are available because I want some good quality feedback and discussion and not just the worst scum on Earth trolling around. If you have strongly different opinions to mine, I'm sure that there are other venues out there, many of which would not probably tolerate my opinions either.

      How would a Muslim feel if I go to a mosque and go to the toilet on top of a Koran?, something I could perfectly do within my mindset, because I believe it is an act of divine illumination against the idolatry of words. How? Wouldn't they be angry? Of course! Well, that act is irrelevant to me but racism is much relevant, because either we are one in Humankind or we are worse off than salt mine slaves in ancient times. I get righteously angry for my own very good reasons.

      Gora Gizartea! Viva Humankind!

      Now, get lost, Onur. There's no room for you here: it's my home and you fail to acknowledge my primacy in it. That's very bad manners, you know.

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